A series many expected to be close delivered in its opening game as the Screaming Eagles fell 3-1 to the Rimouski Océanic in a contest that didn’t find its winning goal until the final three minutes.
It was the Eagles striking first, just 3:34 into the first period, as Shawn Boudrias tipped a shot by Colten Ellis. The Eagles came out on fire, outshooting the Océanic 7-1 in the game’s early stages. Rimouski began to generate some momentum on a sequence where the teams played four on four, but the Eagles outshot the Océanic 14-8 on the period and led 1-0 after 20.
The second period would be more evenly played, and was the only period of the night where both teams each had a power play opportunity. But neither Ellis nor Cape Breton’s Kevin Mandolese could be beaten, and the Eagles held a 1-0 lead after the opening two periods.
After not being able to score for two full periods, Rimouski did not waste time scoring in the third. Alexis Lafrenière came up the right side of the ice and was able to beat Mandolese low to tie the game at 1. Mandolese would be tested as Rimouski fired 17 shots towards the Eagles goal in the third frame- the Eagles netminder was able to deny Jimmy Huntington on a breakaway and keep it a tie game.
In the final few minutes Rimouski would take their first lead of the series, and not leave the Eagles much time to respond. It began when play was tied up along the boards and the officials refused to blow the play down despite the objections of the home crowd. However, the Rimouski supporters would be more satisfied with what was about to come. The Océanic were able to generate some sustained pressure in the Cape Breton zone, and it finished with Olivier Garneau blasting the puck into open space to put Rimouski in front.
Garneau’s goal came with 2:53 to play, and less than 40 seconds later Screaming Eagles coach Marc-André Dumont would lift Mandolese for an extra attacker. At the next stoppage Dumont would call a timeout to try to a diagram a tying goal. It would prove unsuccessful as Lafrenière hit Jimmy Huntington with a pass towards the open goal and Huntington sealed a series opening win for Rimouski.
Ellis picked up the win, stopping 30 of 31 shots. Mandolese took the loss, turning aside 31 of 33 shots in addition to the empty netter.
Game two of their series will go on Sunday afternoon at 4 PM Atlantic time. You can catch all the action beginning with the pre-game show with Patrick McNeil at 3:30 on 1270 AM CJCB or online at www.cjcbradio.com.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Olivier Garneau (Rimouski) Game winning goal, 1 assist, +3
2. Alexis Lafrenière (Rimouski) 1 goal, 2 assists
3. Charle-Edouard D’Astous (RImouski) +1, 6 shots
Scratches For Cape Breton: Adam McCormick (lower body injury) Liam Kidney, Isiah Campbell
Scratches For Rimouski: Jordan Lepage (injury), Elliot St-Pierre, Frédéryck Janvier
Cape Breton Power Play: 0/3
Rimouski Power Play: 0/2
Final Shots On Goal: 34-31 in favour of Rimouski